Ours has always been a sports-crazed world. The ancient Persians delighted in polo, the “game of kings,” and the Native Americans were the first to enjoy the fast-paced sport of lacrosse. At the zenith of their power, the ancient Egyptians developed the earliest form of fencing. Today, athletic competition has the ability to demonstrate the triumph of the human psyche and to transform an entire nation into an unbridled state of jubilation. Similarly, the international tensions and conflicts that plague mankind are played out on the battlefield of sport.
Match Point: Sports, Nationalism, and Diplomacy explores how the physical—and political—games we play indeed reflect the challenges that shape our world. Victor Cha provides the backdrop for this Forum by discussing the influence of sport on the nation-state. In a timely piece on South Africa, Derek Catsam examines how the country has harnessed the power of sport to facilitate the process of racial and national reconciliation. Junwei Yu argues that the 2009 World Games in Taiwan served not only to strengthen the island’s national consciousness but also to expand its “diplomatic breathing space” while seeking creative solutions to the cross-Strait dilemma. Finally, Thomas Garofalo explains how “baseball diplomacy” can help mend the rift between the United States and Cuba.
However, this issue also devotes attention to a host of other contests whose exposition lies far beyond the stadium. The Law and Ethics section features two prominent articles regarding the battle over medical marijuana, from both medical and legal perspectives. The Journal also highlights the international response to the humanitarian crisis and “human wrongs” situation in North Korea. Moreover, 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow discusses the ongoing threat of terrorism, the detainment of enemy combatants and the Guantanamo Bay prison, and the ways in which the United States can regain its positive standing in the international community.
Despite the challenges that confront our rapidly changing world, it is comforting to know that there will always be another scrimmage, another match, and another chance at achieving victory. We hope that this issue of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs entertains and informs our readership at home, in the workplace, and even on the pitch.
– Julia Famularo & Sarath Ganji
Forum: Match Point
- Introduction by Victor D. Cha | Read
A mutual love for sport is shared by diverse peoples across the globe. Sport has the power to transcend ethnicity, religion, and class and, in turn, bring together a nation in support of a common team and a shared identity. As such, the reach of sport into every demographic of society has profound implications for the nation-state. In South Africa, the connections between race and rugby come to the fore in anticipation of the 2010 World Cup. Taiwan’s successful World Games provided an opportunity for the island’s citizens to showcase their unique national identity and for the nation to gain critical international breathing space. Sport can also translate across borders and lend succor to diplomatic efforts, as demonstrated by the mutual love of baseball between Cubans and Americans. This Forum examines how the pervasive influence of sport has created opportunities for unity and reconciliation worldwide, turning a pastime into an element of nationalism and diplomacy.
- The Death of Doubt? Sport, Race, and Nationalism in the New South Africa by Derek Charles Catsam | Read
- Cross-Strait Tug of War: Taiwan and the World Games by Junwei Yu | Buy
- Sports without Diplomacy: The United States, Cuba, and Baseball by Thomas Garofalo | Buy
Politics & Diplomacy
In this increasingly complex, interdependent, and information-rich world, U.S. policymakers face the common challenge of bringing expert knowledge to bear in governmental decision making. American think-tanks are well-positioned to provide alternative views to administrations and foster debate on contentious topics.
- A Smart Use of Intelligence: Preventing Genocide and Mass Killing by Lawrence Woocher | Read
The intelligence community is uniquely placed to support U.S. government agencies tasked with preventing mass atrocities and genocide. But to be effective, it should conduct long-term assessments, produce watch lists, identify potential high-risk situations, and design and implement preventive strategies.
Conflict & Security
- Right Intentions, Wrong Approaches: The Response to North Korea’s Human “Wrongs” Problem by Balbina Hwang | Buy
The challenge of addressing North Korean human rights abuses remains a polarized, politically sensitive, and intractable problem within the international diplomatic arena. This article analyzes how the issue has been addressed and offers suggestions for a new approach.
Sahrawi refugees have been able to establish a sense of united sovereignty in Algerian camps, despite obstruction from neighboring Morocco.
Culture & Society
- Ghana’s Fragile Elections: Consolidating African Democracy through E-Voting by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko | Buy
Despite being heralded as a democratic success story, Ghana’s elections are prone to irregularities, which undermine its prospects for democracy. Civil society organizations are therefore promoting a biometric registration and electronic voting system to ensure credible elections and political stability.
Law & Ethics
- Wither Medical Marijuana by Lester Grinspoon | Read
Although marijuana possesses many medical benefits and few proven detrimental side-effects, its legalization remains a controversial issue. The author explores the medicinal qualities of cannabis,
the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry to capitalize on such benefits, and government
inefficiencies in realizing the potential of decriminalizing such a drug.
Marijuana prohibition is a practice exercised by nations around the world—not just the United States. Drug control, in the case of marijuana, is ill-conceived and should be eliminated. A policy of decriminalization may serve as a step toward legalization.
Business & Economics
Science & Technology
- Getting Rid of Black Carbon: A Neglected but Effective Short-Term Mitigation Avenue by Dennis Clare, Kristina Pistone, and Veerabhadran Ramanathan | Buy
Most policymakers and scientists focus on CO2 reduction when addressing the global warming issue. However, short-term pollutants like black carbon may provide another avenue for winning the battle against global warming.
- The Search for the Killer App: Precision Farming in Africa by James Lowenberg-Deboer and Bruce Erickson | Buy
Precision agriculture, in its many forms, has had a significant impact on crop production worldwide. Although it is still searching for its “killer app,” it appears that GPS will become the most valuable type of technology in the field.
- The Return of Peace by Paula R. Newberg | Read
A review of Reconciliation in Afghanistan by Michael Semple.
A review of
If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor
View from the Ground
- Surviving Food Insecurity in North Korea by Diana Park | Read
As a result of the famine of the late 1990s and the subsequent food shortages, economic and social shifts in North Korean society have made it increasingly difficult for the government to control its population.
- Beaten but not Broken: Tamil Women in Sri Lanka by Tasha Manoranjan | Read
Sri Lanka’s decades-long conflict has uniquely impacted Tamil women. They have experienced
shifting cultural and political roles within Tamil society, and are uniquely affected by the government’s
May 2009 victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
A Look Back
Executive director of the 9/11 Commission Phillip Zelikow discusses the threat of terrorism, the detainment of enemy combatants, and civilian relations with the government.